Survivors of the Holocaust by Zane Whittingham and Ryan Jones was sent to me by the Amazon Vine review programme in exchange for my honest opinion.
The book arrived a few days ago, but I didn’t have time to read it straight the way. Yesterday I found my ten year old son, Oscar reading it at the kitchen table. He was utterly absorbed in it. I waited until he had finished and asked him what he thought. You could tell that he was really struggling to find the words. In the end he said: ‘Mum. It’s good…no. That’s not the right word for it. Powerful.’ I asked him if he wanted to talk about it with me, but he wanted to read it with me and talk about it then. That’s what we did today.
The book is divided into separate stories from real life survivors of the Holocaust, all of whom had very different experiences. They are told in the form of graphic novel, style stories with very simple words, a few lines to a page. Mostly the pictures do the talking and the stark simplicity of the words really works well here.
At the end of the book is a section about the real life survivors and how they look now and what happened to them after the war. There is also a time line and a short bibliography.
This is an excellent book. The production quality is high, the content has been really thoughtfully selected and arranged and it is age appropriate (Primary age, Ks2). It deserves to be a classic in my opinion and would work as a fantastic spring board to a companion piece like Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit for example.
Oscar and I discussed every page. He asked questions about the things he didn’t fully understand. He drew my attention to numerous clever quirks the illustrator had added to really bring the book to life. He was utterly engrossed in the entire thing and was so excited to show me the photographs of the people at the back of the book. It kick started a discussion between us that was profoundly affecting and he was able to draw parallels with a lot of what is happening in the world today without my prompting.
A must read.